McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Directed by Robert Altman
A gambler and a prostitute become business partners in a remote Old West mining town, and their enterprise thrives until a large corporation arrives on the scene.
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★★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
the house always wins, of course, the trouble is that you don't own it anymore by the time it does.
one of the best, most lucidly despairing movies ever made. not to downplay its inquiry into the cold heart of capitalism, but this would make for a great opiate triple feature alongside House of Pleasures and The Flowers of Shanghai, in case you want to drown in orange and not move for 8 hours (and who wouldn't?).
i watched it by the flickering light of a fire on christmas eve and achieved such nirvana that i saw the face of santa, himself. i suggest you try it, sometime. incidentally, leonard cohen makes for great christmas morning music.
★★★★½ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd
Third viewing, but a more general assessment will have to wait for round four, because I'm writing this less than a week after Leonard Cohen died and Trump was elected. Which means that all I can think about right now are (a) "The Stranger Song" accompanying wintry shots of horseback riders, and (b) McCabe listening, petrified, as his attorney confidently outlines the legal mechanisms that ostensibly protect him, and explains why absolute trust in those mechanisms is well justified.
"Now you take that there company, Harrison & Shaughnessy. They have stockholders. Do you think they want their stockholders, and the public, thinking that their management isn't imbued with all the principles of fair play and justice? The very values that make this country what it is today? Bustin' up these trusts and monopolies is at the very root of the problem of creating a just society. Dammit, McCabe, I'm here to tell you that this free enterprise system of ours works. And working within it, we can protect the small businessman and the big businessman."
"Well, I just didn't, uh...didn't want to get killed."
May we have a happier ending.
★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
McCabe & Mrs. Miller, right from the chilly opening, is a detached and aching odyssey into ambition and transactions. Never have negotiations and subsequent character shifts looked so gorgeously alive and lived-in. It's a film that is drenched and buried within varied amounts of rain, mud, and snow, and the only shelter lies in the orange hues of saloons and crammed hotels. Before viewing, I read that it was a dismantling of the Western genre, but as always, Altman subverts expectations in profoundly delightful fashion.
It's as if Altman wanted to craft a sorrowful poem for all these settlers and gamblers and prostitutes and gunfighters, and even if it's too late, sometimes it's worth trying anyway. Not an ode to the West, but an ode to the travelers who are trying to find what was promised. Certainly a film that I will appreciate more and more with every rewatch.
★★★★★ review by Chance F. on Letterboxd
Robert Altman's hazy and isolated revisionist western plays out like it wasn't staged, like Altman doesn't know the characters, like he filmed it all by chance. From the offbeat, zoom filled camera work to the high exposure image that ooze a sense of drunken numbness. Even in its moments of judgement or sick irony, it feels alive. Altman's is a style I have to get used to every time I see one of his films, but every time I find myself being completely transported.
★★★★★ review by Michael Stuhlman on Letterboxd
Been a little while since I awarded 5 stars to a first time view, but I can think of no other score worthy of a film as near perfection as McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Simultaneously a western and anti-western (I know it's paradoxical), this is one of the saddest films I've seen in quite a while. Two outstanding lead performances, a pitch perfect script and some lovely cinematography make this one to remember. Certainly in my top 5 of the genre.
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